November 29th, 2020

Massage therapist denies allegations

By Shurtz, Delon on October 29, 2020.

Delon Shurtz

lethbridge herald

A massage therapist accused of sexually assaulting a female client two years ago didn’t do any of the things of which he is accused, a judge was told Wednesday.

Testifying on his own behalf, Cyprien Mudenge said during his trial in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench that he never touched the woman inappropriately during a massage Nov. 28, 2018.

The 36-year-old woman, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, testified Tuesday Mudenge got too close to her breasts and touched her vagina and bottom during the massage. She said she felt violated, but admitted she allowed Mudenge to continue the massage for some time, just in case she was mistaken or the inappropriate contact was accidental.

“I was in shock and I was too scared to say anything,” the woman told court.

She finally ended the massage after Mudenge fully exposed her left buttock and touched her vagina beneath her underwear, she testified.

During his own testimony, Mudenge, 55, denied touching the woman inappropriately, and said she gave him permission when he needed to slide her underwear over slightly to massage her glutes and give her a “skin-on-skin” massage to better reach the piriformis muscle located deep in the buttocks. He said her body, except where he was specifically massaging, was always covered by a sheet, and he never massaged beneath her underwear.

When asked by his lawyer if he ever massaged the woman’s chest, or touched her inappropriately, he adamantly said “no I did not.”

Lethbridge lawyer Greg White suggested during his closing arguments that during the time between the massage and trial, the woman “mixed up details” of the incident and may have constructed certain memories. He said there were inconsistencies between her statements to police, comments made to other people at the massage clinic, and her testimony during a preliminary hearing. White said those inconsistencies indicate her testimony is unreliable.

But even if there weren’t any inconsistencies, White said Mudenge’s evidence was straightforward, and he clearly explained what happened. At the least, White concluded, the judge is left unable to determine who to believe, and she must acquit the accused.

Crown Prosecutor Ian Elford agreed that although the case could be a matter of he-said, she-said, he urged Madam Justice Johnna Kubik to find the accused guilty.

“The evidence of the accused should not be believed,” he said.

He said Mudenge’s version of events does not coincide with the woman’s distraught condition afterward, and while Mudenge testified the woman was not crying following the massage, other Crown witnesses said she was crying and was visibly upset.

Elford also said some inconsistencies in evidence is common during a trial, especially when a considerable amount of time has elapsed since the offence. But those inconsistencies aren’t enough to question the complainant’s reliability or credibility.

The trial concluded Wednesday, but Justice Kubik has reserved her decision until Nov. 23.

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